fb-pixel Skip to main content

Bulawayo wins Hemingway/PEN Award

NoViolet Bulawayo, born in Zimbabwe and now a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, is this year’s winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for “We Need New Names” (Little, Brown). The novel follows a 10-year-old girl who leaves her shantytown in Zimbabwe to live with an aunt in Detroit.

Finalists for the award, which honors the best debut book of fiction by an American author, are “The Residue Years” (Bloomsbury), an autobiographical novel by Mitchell S. Jackson, who is black and grew up in Portland, Ore., and “The Old Priest” (University of Pittsburgh), a story collection by Anthony Wallace, who teaches writing at Boston University.


This year’s competition was so fierce that judges added a third honorable mention. The honorees are Jasmine Beach-Ferrara’s “Damn Love” (Ig), linked stories set in San Francisco and North Carolina; Kristopher Jansma’s “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards” (Viking) about a young man’s quest to become a writer; and Ethan Rutherford’s “The Peripatetic Coffin and Other Stories” (Ecco), a collection with historical and contemporary themes.

The 2014 Pen New England Awards honoring regional authors for best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry will go to Jennifer Haigh’s “News from Heaven” (HarperCollins), stories set in a Pennsylvania coal-mining town; Doug Bauer’s “What Happens Next?: Matters of Life and Death” (University of Iowa), a memoir in essays; and Karen Skolfield’s debut poetry collection “Frost in the Low Areas” (Zone 3).

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks will be the keynote speaker at the awards ceremony, to be held at 2 p.m. April 6 at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester. Advance registration is recommended. Details at http://www.jfklibrary.org/Events-and-Awards/Forums.aspx

Stories from Boston neighborhoods

Since 2006, Grub Street writing center and the City of Boston have been collaborating on a preservation project that has reached almost every neighborhood. The two joined forces to offer writing classes to Boston residents over age 60 and get them to put their stories down on paper. After writing classes end and essays are polished, the city and Grub Street co-publish an anthology, which started with “Born Before Plastic” in 2007 and now this year’s “Imagine Such a Life: Stories from Boston’s Most Enduring Neighborhoods,” the fourth volume in the series.


Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Grub Street artistic director Christopher Castellani will speak on March 25 at a celebration for the new book. The party takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Boston University College of Communication, 640 Commonwealth Ave., 2nd floor, room 209. For more information on the project, call the city’s Elderly Commission at 617-635-4250.

Coming out

■  “Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain” by Charles R. Cross (It)

■  “Parentology: Everything You Wanted to Know About the Science of Raising

Children But Were Too Exhausted to Ask” by Dalton Conley (Simon & Schuster)

■  “Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Option” by Paul Garrison (Grand Central)

Pick of the week

Louise Jones of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., recommends “The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos” by Patrick Leigh Fermor (New York Review Books): “Fermor’s fans will celebrate this last of his trilogy — after ‘A Time of Gifts’ and ‘Between the Woods and the Water’ — chronicling his famous walk through Europe in 1933-34. Beautiful writing brings you into an almost medieval Eastern Europe that vanished during World War II. Absolutely wondrous.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.